By Deja Dragovic
“You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your f’n khakis” (Palanhiuk. Fight Club)
Why do we accumulate ‘stuff’?
One side of the argument is that we have intrinsic identities that we build upon using various cultural and social factors, the other – that we already know what kind of identity we want to take on (we have an image in mind, an image usually supplied by popular culture and mass media) and we are constantly pursuing it. We can acquire it through consumption, personal development, education, culture, career, community, and assorted lifestyle choices – which all carry a label so that we can be more easily ‘defined’ by the rest of the society.
But does this continuous consumption, then, become a method of substitute for the genuine development of self or, on the contrary, is consumption used to reinforce cultural traits, thus making it more difficult for instinctual/ intrinsic desires, if any indeed do exist, to find acceptable outlets?
In this day and age, our spending habits dictate our lifestyle choices, which are in no way simply based on survival and necessity any longer.
Shoppers argue that objects they buy provide them with some form of pleasure – they derive emotional value from it, and so they surround themselves with these objects, taking great pride in their possessions and arguing that their happiness and joy are generated from these belongings.
There are differences in how and what we consume, and those differences are manifested in polarity between the tastes of luxury or freedom, and the tastes of necessity, that is to say, our greed. The meaning and the primary function of consumption – to satisfy a need or an urge – is lost when we purchase products. What is gained is simply the ability to compete with peers based on our choice of products, contributing to our rank, status, and reputation in the society. And it’s an endless competition.
Read the rest of Deja’s article at http://arebelwithacause.org/2013/04/07/consumption-identity/
This article is part of a series on consumerism and identity and conscious consumption that is inspired by UNEP’s World Environment Day campaign. World Environment Day (WED) is JUNE 5th. It is the single biggest day for positive action on the environment worldwide.
This year’s theme is Think.Eat.Save in support of a campaign by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reduce food waste and food loss.
Organizations and individuals across the world are encouraged to carry out an environmental activity in support of WED.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Deja Dragovic is a freelance writer and photographer, focusing on sustainable development, climate change and eco-tourism. She previously worked for UNESCO, UNDP, National Geographic Go Green (UK) and National Geographic Traveler (UK). She speaks seven languages and is an active member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Visit her site at http://arebelwithacause.org